Acer's promise of $499 ultrabooks could be hard to keep

Remember all that talk from Acer President Jim Wong about ultrabooks falling to $499 in 2013? According to The Verge, Wong (a.k.a. Weng Jianren) isn't backing down—but folks lower down the company's food chain are more candid about the obstacles in the way. Take a look:

Speaking with Christoph Pohlmann of Acer's laptop team, we learned that the current $799 / €699 price for the Aspire S3 is too low for Acer to actually generate any profit from it. . . . The current costs of sourcing the necessary components and then manufacturing ultrabooks, said Cristoph, are prohibitive for any price point approaching €499, never mind $499."

Now, as The Verge points out, that doesn't mean we won't see $499 ultrabooks next year. The company might be prepared to sell the systems at a loss in order to attract consumers to the platform (and, perhaps, drive them away from the iPad) in the short term. And in the longer term, component prices could fall enough for $499 ultrabooks to become profitable, even if only slightly.

Either way, it'll be interesting to see if other PC vendors follow suit. Acer seems to have some of the cheapest—if not the cheapest—ultrabooks on the market right now. Perhaps that won't change for some time.

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